LumberJocks

Workable, but certainly not great.

  • Advertise with us
Review by dbhost posted 04-11-2012 07:05 PM 4854 views 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Workable, but certainly not great. Workable, but certainly not great. No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

For starters let me say, my 2 star rating is indicative of the fact that this machine is below average for what it is.

I picked my Central Machinery #35570 up second hand, but New In Box and unused in trade for a cleaned up curb find of a Delta 10” miter saw that I fitted with a takeoff blade from another long gone saw. So effectively this machine was free to me. So now that is’t in my shop, and I have it set up and running for a while, let’s get down to the review…

The Good: For starters it’s the least expensive mortiser on the market. Which means for many on a budget, you can afford this, or a drill press attachment, and this certainly works better than a drill press attachment.

It drills square holes.

The chilsels are plenty sharp right out of the box. Not that honing them would hurt, but unlike a lot of mortiser chisels, these worked with no issues and no added labor.

The machine is powerful enough to cleanly, and reasonably sweat free cut various sized mortises in even very hard woods like Hickory.

The Bad: The particle board table. In my environment with the high humidity, particle board / MDF ect refuses to stay flat. This is simply put not worth the effort. I merely kept it for a template.

The hold down / fence design. If you stock is somewhat narrow, say you are cutting 1/4” mortises into 3/4” stock, you WILL ram the chisel into the hold down. I added T track, and hold downs to clamp workpieces down, so far so good.

The gear reduction on this is so extreme, cycling the machine through full travel almost requires spinning the handle all the way around 360 degrees. Mind you, stock thickness comes into play here, and I have found no real functional problems in actual use.

The Ugly: While I have not experienced it, this machine has a reputation for breaking the gear on the lever that raises and lowers the head. I am not sure if I got lucky and got a good one, or if I just haven’t been hard enough on it yet. Out of curiosity I looked at the way it is assembled. From the looks of it, any reasonably mechanically competent person should have no trouble swapping in a replacement gear. The rumored bad gears seem to be lumped into reviews from a certain time frame (2008) so it might have been a bad run… Those that had the issue said the replacement gear seemed to be of a much better casting. I am thinking they had a run of these that they had substandard gears in them and it may not apply to all of them…

Some of these machines got hit with a seriously ugly shade or green paint like the demo model in my local store. Thankfully mine is black.

If you can get this machine on sale for say $169.99 and then toss the 20% or so off coupon on it, you would have a great machine for the price. But if you are going to spend the full $200.00 on it, just save some more and get the Shop Fox or Grizzly instead…

Overall I am very glad I have this instead of the Delta Mortising Attachment I used to have… Far less hassle, but still a very, very, very far cry from say a Powermatic…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com




View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5387 posts in 1986 days



19 comments so far

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1677 days


#1 posted 04-11-2012 10:23 PM

I got the same machine and agree with you review 100%. Good job.

-- Life is good.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1287 posts in 1050 days


#2 posted 04-12-2012 09:58 PM

I look at some of the equipment in HF and pull handles or slide miter gauges and everything is just so sloppy. My only purchase of something there with a motor was DOA, so I stick to name brands. They do have a very cheap 120 volt DC inverter stick welder that is supposed to be fantastic if you have any welding needs.

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5387 posts in 1986 days


#3 posted 04-13-2012 02:05 AM

They do some real gems, this isn’t exactly one of them. However it’s far from being a total waste. It’s not a bad tool, it’s just got some design quirks… A little brain power, and some tinkering and I have a fully functional mortising machine that I can afford. Hard to argue with that… The M&T joints come out nice and tight, and exactly where I want them. What more can I ask for the price?

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View StumpyNubs's profile

StumpyNubs

6272 posts in 1554 days


#4 posted 04-14-2012 12:03 PM

This tool can actually be quite nice if you take time to upgrade it. I am doing an episode on Blue Collar Woodworking this summer on it.

The best upgrade you can make is a new table and fence hold-down system. I made my table a lot longer, then I installed a couple pieces of short T-Track perpendicular to the fence. I drilled holes through the alluminum fence base and ran bolts through and into that T-Track. This allows you to securely lock the fence and attached hold-down in place, great improving this machine.

The gear breaking is not as common as the screw that attaches the gear setup it to the handle. Fortunately you can replace it with a better one if it does break. That’s what I did.

While the chisels work well, they dull quickly. In time you may want to upgrade them one at a time to better ones.

My biggest gripe is the motor is a little under-powered and this leads to stalling once in a while if a big chip gets caught inside the hollow chisel. This can be minimized with proper chisel setup.

I think if you make the upgrades you’ll be glad you bought it. dhazelton is missing out on a lot of potential HF Gems. Sometimes they take a bit of tuning and upgrading, but there are some tools in there that can save you a bundle! In fact I will be doind a whole series of episodes on HF gems!

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5387 posts in 1986 days


#5 posted 04-14-2012 07:33 PM

Let me know when you post it. I would love to see the upgrades to it. It really does work nice. The major drawback is the hold down / fence design…

I hold fast and true to what I have said before. A cheap tool and developed skills can go a lot further to excellent wood working results than expensive tools and no skills… The HF haters will always hate HF. And there are those that hate anything less than Powermatic. I would absolutely LOVE to have a shop full of PM gold, but let’s face realities, it’s just not in the budget for me…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1011 posts in 2240 days


#6 posted 04-14-2012 08:01 PM

David – The HF shop lives on!!!. Got my HF dust collector up and running and on sale plus a 20% coupon, well worth it. Does the HF mortiser still have the 2.3A motor. That could be a limiting factor, but doable. Slow and Steady. As you know, the biggest limiting factors on all these base model benchtop mortisers, Delta, Jet, etc., is the hold down and fence system. The fence system is so finicky to set up, and the hold down is usually in the way. Unfortunately, only the Powermatic and maybe one or two others use the rack and pinion fence and double lock system on the table. Rockler carried a table replacement with the double lock system but it is discontinued. You could make one for a quarter of the price anyways.

I have the basic Jet mortiser and I posted the link below of a fence/hold down upgrade (by others, not mine) elsewhere. It applies to all standard bench mortisers with the sliding fence and hold down. Best thing is HF has a cross-sliding vice for a good price, and usable after you clean it up and file the burrs and ways. There are several others for under $80 on Amazon, see the Shop Fox offering. Worth a look.

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze6zvlk/id12.html

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5387 posts in 1986 days


#7 posted 04-14-2012 09:23 PM

Yeah, it’s a 2.3 amp motor in it. No speed demon for sure, but I haven’t found that to be a limiting factor in the slightest…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1011 posts in 2240 days


#8 posted 04-14-2012 09:43 PM

Slow and Steady. That’s about 1/4 hp. Besides, just how bigger does a mortise need to be?

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

View StumpyNubs's profile

StumpyNubs

6272 posts in 1554 days


#9 posted 04-15-2012 12:46 PM

I used to think you used a mortiser to cut bug square holes. Not true. You do cut a full sized hole on the first plunge, but then you just nibble away at the edge as you make it longer and wider. Just because it has a half inch chisel doesn’t mean every plunge should remove a half inch of stock. This technique will go a long way to overcoming the power limitations of this machine.

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

View DIYaholic's profile

DIYaholic

14681 posts in 1429 days


#10 posted 04-15-2012 12:49 PM

You so smart Stumpy! Always reminding us of better/correct way to do stuff.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

16043 posts in 1620 days


#11 posted 04-15-2012 01:13 PM

Thanks for the review. I’m in the market for a morticer but it will be a while yet because my next piece of equipment will be a planer. It’s hard to save up the money.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1011 posts in 2240 days


#12 posted 04-15-2012 11:10 PM

When you consider the standard mortise used for tables, cabinets, etc, say 1/4 or 3/8”, with a 3/16 or so reveal in nominal 5/8 stock, then the 6 amp Jet motor sounds like overkill. Anything bigger that 3/4” or so, I would consider a double mortise, or cut it with a router. Unless you have a good bench mortiser setup, i.e. fence and hold down, a router with a jig is the way to go, for some. The benchtop mortiser is a one trick pony and takes up valuable space in a small shop. Heck, anyone want to buy my mortiser?

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

842 posts in 847 days


#13 posted 10-17-2012 04:08 AM

I’m thinking of getting one of these. Does it come with a variety of hollow chisels included or do you have to get them separately?

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5387 posts in 1986 days


#14 posted 10-17-2012 05:35 AM

The chisels are included. 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch.

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

842 posts in 847 days


#15 posted 10-17-2012 10:59 PM

May I ask how it is you sharpen the chisels? I’ve seen them at Harbor freight and they don’t look like something I could sharpen with my Worksharp or honing guide and sandpaper.

If one of these things goes on sale I’m going to get it. Mortises are driving me crazy.

showing 1 through 15 of 19 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase